Definition of Karen in English:



  • 1A member of an indigenous people of eastern Burma (Myanmar) and western Thailand.

    • ‘Another important region for the Karens is the eastern border with Thailand.’
    • ‘The same would apply, for instance, to the Tamils of Sri Lanka, the Karens of Burma, the people of Aceh in Indonesia and the Muslims of the Southern Philippines.’
    • ‘Most Burmese Baptists are members of the major tribal groups, including the Karens and the Chins.’
    • ‘More than 100 Karens fled into Thailand on Friday after a clash between ruling junta troops and ethnic minority guerrillas in neighboring Myanmar, according to a Thai military official.’
    • ‘The Karens are the second-largest ethnic group in Myanmar, forming 6.3% of Myanmar's total population, according to official figures.’
    • ‘The displaced people have taken refuge in the two camps since 1998, the officials said, adding most of them are Karens who fled fighting in Myanmar.’
    • ‘Christabelle Naw, 14, is from one of Burma's ethnic tribes called the Karens.’
    • ‘The study reveals that Indonesians might have been the first inhabitants of Burma followed by Pyus, Karens, Chins and Rakhines.’
    • ‘Nearly 100,000 members of ethnic minority groups in Myanmar, mostly Karens, have fled to Thailand to escape the fighting in their country.’
    • ‘Perhaps 3 million Burmese, mostly Karens, Kachins, Chins, and Lisu, are Christians who accept animistic rituals like the Burmans, who are mostly Theravada Buddhists.’
  • 2[mass noun] The language of the Karen, which probably belongs to the Sino-Tibetan family. Its highly distinct dialects have over 5 million speakers altogether.

    • ‘Karen is a language cluster spoken in lower Myanmar, and in areas bordering Thailand’
    • ‘Other than Karen and Bai, Tibeto-Burman languages feature a Subject Object Verb order.’


  • Relating to the Karen or their language.

    • ‘The camp, accounting for 16 acres, is temporary shelter to 8,200 refugees who belong to a Karen minority who have been fighting with the Myanmar government for a homeland for decades.’
    • ‘Within Burma, the Karen people live spread across from Irrawaddy, Pegu and Rangoon, down to the Tenasserim Divisions.’
    • ‘On reading this Karen story of a giantess, I was struck by how similar it is in structure and function to certain Korean tales which I have read.’
    • ‘Most famously, the Htoo twins, pre-teen mystic leaders of a Karen group called God's Army, grabbed headlines in 2000 as the most unlikely of guerrilla generals.’
    • ‘And on Monday a group of 10 men belonging to God's Army, a Karen minority rebel group, broke into a hospital in the province.’


From Arakanese (a language of Burma) karang.